In previous attempts of a critical and retrospective perception of the action of Aleksandar Srnec usually one would ask "what" is he, and the retrospective exhibition asks the question "who" is he really? The method of deriving a character from the work is already traditional in the historiographic presentation and evaluation of the works of art, and in the wake of the modern idea about an individual who mediates his identity through the works, so the works themselves represent a person. But the questions of a person's identity, his "what" and "who", are combined in the artistic production of the modern epoch and through the aspects of ideology and politics, as well as technology and mass production, in other words – through the phenomena of the avant-garde movements, which includes all those aspects with its semantic field.
The relationship of the concept and practice of the avant-garde to the phenomena of mass technology is indispensable in most discussions about the practice of modernism. And any attempt to perceive some of the cultural practices necessarily points the observer's view to the network of metaphors established by the author himself, but also the facts that pretend to be the historical truth. But the historization of the activity that traditionally belongs to the field of the artistic practice will often also cause certain difficulties in trying to establish the historiographical narration, especially when it comes to artistic practice that ocurred in the context of modernisation, which formally does not exist anymore because of the ideological political reasons.
The monography of Aleksandar Srnec shows an artist that is usually placed in the sphere of neo-avant-garde of the second half of the twentieth century, but who worked in very heterogeneous creative areas and in a social context that ideologically modernised the technique. And since the technique is a significant part of an artist's metaphor, the relation of the modernity towards the past is primarily formed as a question: Is Srnec an artistic visionary of the mass media and how is he perceived today by the viewer who is a subject of virtual symbolic economy?
The title of the monography, "Present absence", is a metaphorical equivalent of an utopian ideological project – a hybrid condition of the fluidity of identity, simultaneous freedom and control, planned economy and the elements of the market competition – a condition in which the community is and is not, and the individual is and is not present. Exactly to such a degree of a non-permanent durability that always interested Aleksandar Srnec in an experimental sense the most – as a record on a film tape, and film is everyday life. As a movement of luminokinetic sculpture and a reflection of the light. And that in terms of Stoke's "calling in the arts", apropos public work within which the individual works-products are only the points of connection between the individual and the collective identity in the ritual of cultural production. Or, more precisely, one could delineate Srnec's action within the triad "image-process-practice" of Catherine Millet, where the happening of the artistic is differentiated by comparison with the happening of the political. Therefore the present-absent identity of the artistic action of Aleksandar Srnec is established as a permanent non-permanent condition of his personal identity, and also as an incentive metaphor for understanding the general relation of avant-garde art and modern mass culture of the spectacle.